Lest We Forget

By Lieutenant Commander Thomas J. Cutler, U.S. Navy (Retired)

Much of the world was caught up in the growing East-West struggle that had come to be known as the Cold War. Communism and capitalist democracies vied for the hearts and minds of the undecideds of the world, and the situation in Vietnam became what one observer described as a "podiatric plebiscite," meaning "an opportunity for people to vote with their feet."

And "vote" they did! Nearly a million people fled communist rule in the north, but fewer than 50,000 went the other way. While there were some extenuations involving religion, redeployment of guerilla forces, etc., the result was undeniably an early indication that communism would never be able to survive by people's choice—a principle made more "concrete" several years later, with the appearance of the Berlin Wall.

There are many heartwarming stories told by the refugees from the north, with gratitude the central theme. Henry Do was given a Snickers candy bar by an American Sailor and to this day cannot eat one without thinking about that Sailor and the "sweet taste of freedom."

Cuong Bui writes: "My father was on one of those ships, running from the communists in 1954 . . . . In 1975, he took me on another ship. This time we ended up in America, land of the free . . . . We are very grateful to America and all of its kind people."

Warren Carara and thousands of other American Sailors were some of those "kind people," proving that weapons are not the only means of serving a noble cause.

Lieutenant Commander Cutler is the author of several books, including A Sailor's History of the U.S Navy and Brown Water, Black Berets .
 

Thomas J. Cutler is a retired lieutenant commander and former gunner's mate second class who served in patrol craft, cruisers, destroyers, and aircraft carriers. His varied assignments included an in-country Vietnam tour, small craft command, and nine years at the U.S. Naval Academy, where he served as Executive Assistant to the Chairman of the Seamanship & Navigation Department and Associate Chairman of the History Department. While at the Academy, he was awarded the William P. Clements Award for Excellence in Education (military teacher of the year).

He is the founder and former Director of the Walbrook Maritime Academy in Baltimore. Currently he is Fleet Professor of Strategy and Policy with the Naval War College and is the Director of Professional Publishing at the U.S. Naval Institute.

Winner of the Alfred Thayer Mahan Award for Naval Literature, the U.S. Naval Institute Press Author of the Year, and the U.S. Maritime Literature Award, his published works include NavCivGuide: A Handbook for Civilians in the U.S. Navy; A Sailor's History of the U.S. Navy [one of the books in the Chief of Naval Operations Reading Program]; The Battle of Leyte Gulf; Brown Water, Black Berets: Coastal & Riverine Warfare in Vietnam; and the 22nd, 23rd (Centennial), and 24th editions of The Bluejacket's Manual. His other works include revisions of Jack Sweetman's The Illustrated History of the U.S. Naval Academy and Dutton's Nautical Navigation. He and his wife, Deborah W. Cutler, are the co-editors of the Dictionary of Naval Terms and the Dictionary of Naval Abbreviations.

His books have been published in various forms, including paperback and audio, and have appeared as main and alternate selections of the History Book Club, Military Book Club, and Book of the Month Club. He has served as a panelist, commentator, and keynote speaker on military and writing topics at many events and for various organizations, including the Naval History and Heritage Command, Smithsonian Institution, the Navy Memorial, U.S. Naval Academy, MacArthur Memorial Foundation, Johns Hopkins University, U.S. Naval Institute, Armed Forces Electronics Communications and Electronics Association, Naval War College, Civitan, and many veterans' organizations. His television appearances include the History Channel's Biography series, A&E's Our Century, Fox News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor, and CBS's 48 Hours.

More by this Author

BROWN WATER, BLACK BERETS
The men of the U.S. Navy's brown-water force played a vital but often overlooked role in the... Read More
BATTLE OF LEYTE GULF
The last great naval battle of World War II, Leyte Gulf also is remembered as the biggest naval... Read More
DUTTON'S NAUTICAL NAVIGATION, 15TH EDITION
As paper navigational charts are replaced by vector images on computer screens, magnetic compasses... Read More
A SAILOR'S HISTORY OF THE U.S. NAVY
Also Available in an Audio Edition from Audible via Amazon Essential reading as part of the Chief... Read More

Events and Conferences

Guest Lecturer
12:30pm, “Shifley Lecture Series,” U.S. Naval Academy Museum, 118 Maryland Ave., Annapolis, MD /... Read More

 
 

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Maritime Security Dialogue

Tue, 2014-10-14

Please join us for the launch of a new Maritime Security Dialogue series, featuring: Admiral Jonathan Greenert, USN, Chief...

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Guest Lecturer & Book Signing

Sun, 2014-10-26

"Meet the Author & Book Talk"

Mon, 2014-10-27

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